From the U.S. to India, Sri Lanka to Saudi Arabia, democracies under nationalist leaders and authoritarian regimes are now embracing war criminals as symbols of support to the military.
The shift is a reflection of the marriage between masculinity and nationalism playing out in many of these countries, say experts.
At a February 2016 campaign rally in South Carolina, Donald Trump, then running for president, invoked a false story about Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing and how he crushed a Muslim insurgency in the Philippines. Pershing took 50 bullets, dipped them in pigs’ blood and executed 49 Muslims in retaliation for Islamic terrorism, Trump declared at the rally. He even tweeted later: “There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”
Like many other elements of Trump’s campaign rhetoric, his embrace of war crimes wasn’t just hyperbole. As president, Trump pardoned Mathew Golsteyn, an Army Special Forces officer who claimed to the CIA in a job interview that he killed an Afghan detainee whom he believed was a bomb maker. He (Trump) prevented the demotion of Eddie Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was acquitted of war crimes charges but was convicted of posing for photographs with a detainee’s corpse. He pardoned Clint Lorance, an Army lieutenant who ordered his unit to fire on unarmed Afghans. And in May this year, Trump pardoned Michael Behenna, a former Army lieutenant who was convicted of killing an unarmed Iraqi detainee.
Yet while Trump’s actions have sparked criticism from veterans and experts alike, they’re in keeping with a growing global pattern. Muscular, nationalist governments are increasingly demonstrating their support for their militaries by overlooking or even rewarding crimes, while others are turning to war criminals to replicate their brutality in other theaters of war.
In April, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa pardoned Sunil Ratnayake, an army sergeant convicted of the murder of eight Tamil civilians during the country’s 26-year civil war. The U.S. has successfully pressured the Afghan government to release hundreds of Taliban prisoners, including some of the most brutal killers, whose victims include soldiers of coalition forces.
India’s Narendra Modi government has awarded a soldier who tied an innocent Kashmiri man to his jeep and paraded him through a town in 2018. And the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and others are hiring a militia known as the RSF, behind some of the worst crimes in Darfur, to fight in Libya and Yemen.
NATIONALISM, MASCULINITY AND VIOLENCE ARE ALL TIED UP TOGETHER
If the brutality of these war crimes is at variance with the more sophisticated — though no less dangerous — tools of 21st-century power, such as data and information, financial heft and technology, that’s no coincidence. Carolyn Nordstrom, professor emeritus of anthropology at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, explains that modern nation-states are built on 19th-century political and economic foundations. And despite their technological advances, they’re in the midst of internal power struggles between old and new approaches. “The old power is using the only tricks it knows by institutionalizing the armed forces,” she says.
Politics is front and center. The White House insists the pardons are meant to “offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country.” But Trump was blunt on Twitter: “We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill!”
This pattern of reprieves and rewards for alleged or convicted war criminals is visible in nations with autocratic regimes or democracies that have witnessed an erosion in the rule of law under nationalist governments, acknowledges Ernesto Verdeja, a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame who has been a longtime war crimes watcher. But he points out that motivations across regimes vary.
For Saudi Arabia, for instance, the decision to use a notoriously brutal militia of mercenaries to support its overseas wars is little more than a pragmatic strategic choice. For democracies that formally subscribe to the rule of law, like the U.S. or India, “the audience is fundamentally domestic,” Verdeja says. And for that particular domestic audience, “nationalism, masculinity and violence are all tied up together.”
Charles Anthony Smith, associate professor of political science at University of California, Irvine and author of The Rise and Fall of War Crimes Trials: From Charles I to Bush II, concurs.
“When you get a leader of a country who has constructed a tough-guy image, the reality is, the very bad acts happen against people that these tough guys don’t care about,” Smith says. “They either don’t like their ethnicity or their country of origin, or something like that.” The ones who fail to get justice by such pardons are almost “never the tough guys’ constituents.”
Leaders such as Trump, Modi and Rajapaksa pitch themselves as their countries’ best hope for law and order. But in reality, they end up defending lawlessness. “By fanning the flames of bigotry, they feel good about what they’re doing,” Smith adds. “It gives them a sense of empowerment.”
Mason County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a man and woman suspected of kidnapping and murdering a woman whose body was found earlier this month.
On Oct. 2, deputies responded to a call of a body found in the Lake Cushman area, off U.S. Forest Service Road 24 near Highway 119, according to a department news release. The woman was identified as Rachell Rene Roberts after an autopsy on Oct. 5, according to KING TV.
“It was apparent from the evidence at the scene that this was a homicide,” the news release reads.
She had been assaulted, according to the release, and a medical examiner found signs of suffocation.
Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol, and the FBI have been investigating the homicide, according to the release, and the Sheriff’s Office ultimately requested arrest warrants for two people on charges of murder and kidnapping.
The news release describes Collett as a white man who’s 5-feet, 9-inches tall and 180 pounds and bald with blue eyes. It describes Craig as 5-feet-3-inches tall and 180 pounds with brown eyes and “brownish/blond hair.”
They’re associated with a red 2013 Hyundai Elantra with a Washington license plate number of BTX1364.
Law enforcement are still working to determine where Roberts was killed, but detectives do not believe the crime happened where Roberts was found, Mason County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy of Investigations Jason Dracobly told The Associated Press. He said police believe there was a connection between Roberts and the suspects, but they haven’t identified it yet.
Anyone with information on the suspects’ location is requested to call 911, Crime Stoppers of South Sound at 800-222-TIPS, or Mason County Sheriff’s Office at 360-427-9670. Information also can be emailed to email@example.com.
The Sheriff’s Office advises the public not to confront the suspects, as they’re considered armed and dangerous.
2 suspects wanted for Rachell’s murder are in custody
by Rolf Boone (10-11-20)
A man and woman have been arrested in connection with the death of a woman whose body was found near Lake Cushman early this month, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office announced Sunday morning.
The two suspects, Mathew Collett, 37, and Kylie Kadeen Craig, 28, were found and arrested in the northern California’s Humboldt County.
“Due to the nature of this investigation, we cannot release any additional information at this time,” the Sheriff’s Office said in its announcement.
Collett and Craig were wanted for the kidnapping and murder of Rachell Rene Roberts, whose body was found this month near Lake Cushman in Mason County. Roberts’ body was discovered off U.S. Forest Service Road 24 near Highway 119 on Oct. 2.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Licensing on Wednesday, arguing the state’s practice of suspending drivers’ licenses when they fail to pay traffic fines unfairly hurts people who can’t afford to pay.
The complaint, filed in Thurston County Superior Court on behalf of people whose licenses have been suspended, names the Washington State Department of Licensing and department director Teresa Berntsen as defendants, The Seattle Times reported.
Currently in Washington, when a driver gets a moving violation such as a speeding ticket, they can pay the fine or request a hearing. But if they don’t respond to the citation or fail to appear at a hearing, their license is suspended. If the person doesn’t pay or enter a payment plan, the court can refer the debt to a collection agency.
People who then drive without a valid license can be charged with a misdemeanor which at the lowest level can carry another $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail.
The ACLU argues this system unconstitutionally favors wealthier people, who can pay their tickets and keep their licenses, while stripping people with low incomes of their right to drive, trapping them with ballooning debt and making it more difficult for them to keep a job that could help them pay off their fines.
“License suspensions for those unable to pay fines, fees, and default judgments for moving violations are not about public safety,” the complaint said.
Licensing spokesperson Christine Anthony said in an email Wednesday, “We have just received the lawsuit and will be working with the Attorney General’s Office on our next steps.”
The ACLU claims the system violates state constitutional rights to due process and equal protection and against excessive fines. The attorneys ask the court to stop the Department of Licensing from suspending licenses for unpaid tickets or failure to appear.
“I beg you, master. Master!” That’s what a black Colorado woman, Shataean Kelly, 28, cried out to the police officer who had hog-tied her and thrown her in the back of his cop car after arresting her for being in a fight. She slipped off the seat and with her face to the floor, hands and feet shackled behind her back, she begged, “please don’t let me die back here!” as he drove her for another 21 minutes to the precinct.
The officer, Levi Huffine, later claimed he couldn’t see what was happening in the back seat, reports CBS Denver. But on camera footage of the ordeal, her words, crying, and prayers are very easy to hear, including, “Officer, please. I can’t breathe.”
The incident took place in Aurora, Colorado, in August of 2019, but the footage was just released this week. If it seems eerily reminiscent of the story of a Black woman who was also hog-tied by Aurora police, it should. Last week Diane Redleaf reported on the case of Vanessa Peoples, a mom whose toddler wandered away at a family picnic, prompting a passerby to call the police, who then called child services. When a caseworker came to Peoples’ home and she didn’t hear the knocking, the worker called for backup and three cops entered Peoples’ home, guns drawn. In the hubbub that ensued, they hog-tied Peoples, dislocated her shoulder, and took her to jail. This was during a “child wellbeing” visit in 2017.
Aurora has also been the focus of protests over the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old who was walking home from getting his brother an iced tea on Aug. 24, 2019, when someone called 911 to report that he was waving his arms, wearing a mask and looking suspicious.
When the police found McClain, who was unarmed, they struggled to handcuff him, finally felling him with a “carotid hold.” McClain vomited, apologized for this, and told officers he couldn’t “breathe properly.” Emergency medical technicians injected him with the sedative ketamine. McClain had a heart attack on the way to the hospital and died six days later.
Upon the release of the video showing Kelly hogtied and upside down in the cop car, Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said she was sickened by what she saw and believed Huffine had hog-tied Kelly as “punishment,” not for any actual safety reason. Tied up and contorted this way, Kelly could have died of positional asphyxia, said Wilson. “[Huffine] is lucky she did not die in the backseat of that car. Because he would be—in my opinion—in an orange jumpsuit right now.”
A review board had recommended a five-week suspension, but Wilson overruled them and fired Huffine. He has appealed his termination.
In the meantime, Aurora has dropped all criminal charges against Kelly.
Erin Smith was at a GOP election watch party at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco on November 8, 2016. For the one-time deputy vice chair of communications for the city Republication Party, it should have been a time of jubilation.
“As soon as they announced Trump the presumptive winner, we’re told, ‘Hey, there’s a mob of protestors out front,'” says Smith, who stepped outside to find the San Francisco cops being pushed back by a crowd, some in head-to-toe black: clothes, helmets, face masks.
A trans woman, conservative, and former tugboat captain who says she’s “a weird activist/analyst-type person right now,” Smith soon became galvanized to find out more about a group that dressed as revolutionaries and took their fight to the streets. What was animating them? Trump animus? The romance of revolution? The boredom and frustration of COVID sequestration? An unfocused desire to fuck shit up?
It takes a special moral blindness to see setting fires, breaking windows, and threatening journalists as the road to justice. I’ve seen this moral blindness rise along with the violence in Portland. Young activists have told me frankly that they don’t give a shit if someone working in the basement of the police station burns to death because, hey, she chose to work there. I’ve seen activists cheer the murder of a member of the conservative group Patriot Prayer. You cannot employ the violence of your perceived enemies and expect your revolution to end in peace.
What Smith has experienced has not been peaceful. She’s had friends beaten up by ANTIFA. She’s been threatened herself. It made her curious. This summer, she decided to find out more by going undercover with the black bloc anarchists in Portland.
I went out with Smith several nights, and while I could not follow her directly—black bloc avoids having those outside its ranks interview or photograph them—I was able to watch her, wearing all black and carrying a shield bearing an anarchist “A,” slip into the group. I saw that she was present at the same locations where black bloc attacked buildings and set fires.
After one such night, Smith and I sat over a couple of hard seltzers and discussed why she decided to infiltrate the black bloc and what she found.
What did you know about ANTIFA when you first encountered them in San Francisco?
I had a vague idea of what ANTIFA was, but it wasn’t nearly as big a deal as it is now, outside of maybe Berkeley or Seattle. I’d had friends that got attacked at the Trump rally they tried to hold in San Jose [in April 2016]. I’d had a year of watching that happen, and basically, I don’t like bullies, so I started showing up at these things, at rallies and protests and places where my friends were getting beaten up. It felt like in 2016, everything really changed in the Bay Area. It stopped being so carefree, in a sense Everything started kind of feeling like it was for keeps.
April 27, 2017, was the first rally I went to, in Berkeley. This was a Trump MAGA rally. I started livestreaming in June and I got to be pretty good at talking to people from the other side. The first time I ever actually dressed in black and put on a mask on and tried to slip into the bloc was last weekend. It is a little scary, because I’ve faced them down so much. I’m like, “I’m going to dress in black and slip in?”
I’ve studied them for a bit, watching videos and stuff. I wrote a piece on ANTIFA tactics for a monograph that’s coming out next month, for the Center for Security Policy. And I have an advantage, having gone to the rallies. But they know who I am. When ANTIFA hates you and know who you are, the best way to hide is right in the middle of their black bloc. That’s the last place they think to look. It’s one of the advantages of dressing in black and wearing your mask.
You had a shield tonight. Did you make it?
Actually, I acquired it at the riot. Someone set it down, and I’m like, “That’s cool. It’s communism, no property. This is mine.”
How organized are things on the inside?
There are different types of bloc organization styles. The building block of ANTIFA is what’s called an affinity group, people you live and work with and trust and know in real life. All the planning is done within that closed bloc, and they don’t let everyone know [what they’re going to do]. I didn’t know that they were going to burn the Portland Police Association when I joined. What they did was put a call out that said, “Anyone show up in black that night at this place, and you can join the action.”
That’s called a semi-open bloc. The planning is done within the closed group, but anyone who’s dressed in black can come join the action. If you know what you’re looking for, you can spot affinity groups that are working together. One thing they’ll do sometimes is have written agreements with other protest organizations that aren’t in black bloc. I know of one from Berkeley that illustrates this: “We agree that to not take pictures of anyone in ANTIFA.” It will say that literally in writing, so everyone’s working together. It’s like a combined arms type thing, almost like the military. They work together and are mutually reinforcing.
So your first night with them, you burned the Portland Police Association…
We get to the Portland Police Association and immediately, they blockade both ends of the street. They built the shield wall and they’re hammering the door open. I went over and I’m standing in the bloc as they’re breaking the door down. It took them a little while longer than what I thought. They could have found better ways to breach the building, but they had hammers and pry bars and they pry it open and pry the plywood back and they pour fuel and light it on fire and start burning stuff.
Strategically what they’re doing is, they’re forcing a dilemma action. A dilemma action is when you put your opponent in a no-win situation. Your enemy has to react. If they don’t react, they look weak; if they do react, they have to react in a certain way where it looks like it’s an overreaction.
When the feds were in Portland, they were presented as overreacting, a presentation helped by innumerable people with PRESS written across their clothing flooding the internet with images that presented protesters wholly as victims of an authoritarian regime.
That’s their [ANTIFA’s] objective. It’s not a tactical thing. That’s why all the “press” is there, the sympathetic press. They’re trying to create propaganda. They know how the police are going to react, so they carefully calibrate what they do to try to provoke the police into reacting and then filming it. They want to try to push public opinion in favor of removing the police. The police aren’t perfect, but what a police force is, it’s putting force under an objective third party, under government control. ANTIFA wants to separate the police from the populace.
This is basically guerilla warfare. They’re trying to undermine legitimacy of the state. The police right now, I think some of them are catching up. There’s a playbook for how police respond to riots and they’re not actually doing it; it’s not an actual riot. I mean, it is a riot, but at the same time, it’s a specific type of riot that’s trying to make the police respond in a certain way.
Meaning, they’re able to provoke the police into taking the bait.
Yeah. Basically they’re baiting the police into overreacting.
So how did you feel when the police station was on fire?
It was pretty wild, actually. Right when the fire was lit, the police announced, “This is a riot” and they [the black bloc] started marching. For me it was really kind of amazing, because they were incredibly proficient. This was 600, 700 people. They moved a group of people through the city in close order, quickly and efficiently, and attacked a target and caught it on fire and then escaped from the police.
I describe it as an open-source networked insurgency. They were incredibly efficient. They hit a target and vanished into the city and got away. Basically, they’re like skirmishers: They come in, they attack the cops, they get out.
ANTIFA goes for a certain type of violence, a mid-level violence. Most people aren’t practiced in violence, and what they’ll do is, they’ll either back down or they’ll overreact. ANTIFA basically as a group does the equivalent of just pushing someone on the shoulder, and again, and again.
They keep it at a simmer.
Yes. It’s very tricky to react to because people get angry. If you just go in public and pick someone and start pushing them, if you keep pushing them, they’re going to slug you; it’s just how it’s going to work, at the individual level but also at the group level too. I’m also speaking metaphorically, in a sense. Of course if you hit them, they’re going to fall down and go, “Oh, God, you’re violent. You’re a Nazi!”
What they’re intending to do is use that level of violence that will scare people enough to back down. [The radical left] learned in the ’70s that killing people is bad PR. A body count is horrible.
So we’re not going to see another Weather Underground?
Not at this point. They’ve learned and adapted. What they want to do is make it difficult for people [they don’t like] to organize.
So that’s really the two responses. Most people don’t know how to handle that mid-level force. So they either back down or they slug people; either way is a win.
When you don’t know what you’re looking at, you see a lot of random, rage-filled kids. You sometimes wonder: Do they even know how to formulate a plan? But you go out with them a few nights and understand, people are actually working together.
It’s really interesting. I did a breakdown of the Grant Park video, the tech they had. And that was freaking incredibly sophisticated. This is Grant Park in Chicago, when they attacked the statue and put like 49 police officers in the hospital. [Tonight] was so much like this, in terms of operational sophistication, how coordinated everything was.
But not centralized.
Let me explain that a little more. People keep looking for a chain of command, and you don’t necessarily need that, as long as everyone understands a basic level of instruction it works.
What are the basics?
Basically, don’t talk about it. Don’t photograph people’s faces. “What did you see?” “I didn’t see shit!” is a chant you’ll hear. You can go to websites like CrimethInc. and they’ll have a lot of breakdowns of tactics. It’s an anarchist website. It’s an open-source network insurgency, not so much a chain of command.
People think ANTIFA and they picture people in black. ANTIFA is bigger than that. Black bloc is a tactic. Dressing in black, it’s a tactic. You don’t have to dress in black to be ANTIFA. You don’t even have to hit the streets. There are people who work in tech, hackers who never hit the streets, and they’re still ANTIFA. [The media] play these little word games, “Oh, ANTIFA doesn’t exist.” Yes and no. It’s not an organization where you have to sign up for a membership. It’s one of those things where it’s just a loose-knit network of people.
Whose message can be a sweet song, not just young people looking for identity, or those for whom COVID-19 has cooped up, but anyone wanting to be part of what they see as a fighting force for justice.
People want to fight through things. I first heard of CrimethInc in 2000. I’ve got their seminal work, Days of War, Nights of Love. I’ve got it inscribed, “Love and insurrection”; it’s anarchist stuff. I’m not an anarchist or a communist or anything like that. But it is a siren song. Young people, they sense there’s something wrong, and they want to fight. That’s a human instinct. Francis Fukuyama talks about it: People want to struggle. And if everything is fine, they’ll struggle against democracy.
I understand where some of that comes from. People want community and want to feel like they’re fighting. That’s why we love Star Wars. We love the underdog fighting. And I think young people that don’t have a network, it’s just something very intoxicating.
And totally honestly, when I was out there with black bloc [and] busted open a door to a police station, set it on fire and ran from the cops? It was fun. I know that sounds weird. I don’t support that as a policy, but when you’re there in the street, it’s fun.
Violence is fun. This is one of the things we don’t talk about as a society. It’s like, wow, this is pretty fun, especially when you feel like you have grounds for any type of legitimate complaint. It’s easy to knock on these people. And I still do. I don’t agree with what they’re doing, but I respect them. I’ve been facing these people down for four years. I take them seriously and I respect their skill at what they’re doing and their dedication.
What are the ages of the people you were hanging out with?
Anywhere from twenties to thirties.
Do you have any idea what they do for work?
In the Bay Area, we’ve had people arrested that were physicists. Look up Freddy Martinez. He was arrested for punching some guy in Berkeley. And Freddy Martinez is the director of Lucy Parsons Labs. I know there’s another guy who was a Johns Hopkins grad. You can dismiss them as a bunch of losers, but I’ve seen some incredibly smart people.
I’ve told some demonstrators mouthing off to me to read Utopia or Auschwitz, about the 1968 generation in Germany who were livid with their Nazi-collaborating parents and were going to build a better society. The movement became progressively less peaceful and eventually took to bombing and murdering people. ANTIFA right now is able to keep things at a simmer and provoke others into behaving badly, but history tells us things usually don’t stay at a simmer. Do we get to skip the part where people are building bombs in basements in Portland?
Well, they are making those primitive small IEDs made out of commercial grade fireworks. They’re roughly about the power of police flash-bangs. I’ve had them go off right next to me and you feel it; you feel the heat wave hit you. But a big thing for them [ANTIFA] is they have convinced themselves that they’re doing something good. They’re very big about trying to maintain, at least in their eyes, the moral high ground. Part of that is not killing people. They want that moral high ground and they construct it. And that’s kind of what they do by using that mid-level of violence. They want you to overreact because not being extremely violent is how they convince themselves they’re better. And it’s also great propaganda.
Do you see ANTIFA as getting more than a toehold in city government here?
Quite possibly, yes, I think by weakening the police, or defunding the police. They have the organization that if the police went away tomorrow, you would basically have an ANTIFA police force.
They wouldn’t call themselves ANTIFA, but they have the organization that, if there’s no objective third-party security force, then who’s going to stop it?
I think the worst case is if they weaken the police; they don’t go away because then the police are still there and they’ll be able to target the normal law-abiding people. It’s what we have in San Francisco. It’s anarcho-tyranny. It’s like the law really only applies to people that are trying to follow the law.
I wouldn’t say the majority of people in Portland are sympathetic to ANTIFA, but you’ve got a lot of people that either are apathetic or don’t think it matters or they’re scared. You put all of those people together, maybe you have a majority. There’s a woman running for mayor that is openly pro-ANTIFA, a woman who was photographed wearing a skirt with Chairman Mao’s face on it. It could be that Portland is the place where ANTIFA goes Main Street.
I think that in many areas they are already there. I don’t think ANTIFA will get out there and start dressing in police uniforms and be the official police. I think they’ll always stay kind of a paramilitary. But the police are weakened to the point where they can barely oppose [ANTIFA] now as it is. So the police go away, it’s operant conditioning. If every time I grabbed this [hard seltzer] I got shocked, after a while I would stop grabbing it. And that’s basically how they operate. It’s not so much a matter of ruling the whole city, it’s the sense that ANTIFA [moves] the Overton window. “If this person is advocating for something we don’t agree with, we can go punish them and we can punish their friends and family.” It’s a self-censorship. If the cops are a token force now, and they can’t stop anyone, and ANTIFA can destroy your life, then people are going to know that.
And they’re going to shut up and just try to go about their lives.
An upstate New York suspect is facing federal charges for instructing their comrades to make firebombs to harm police in one of the few known cases where federal prosecutors explicitly detail the accused’s ties to Antifa.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York charged 27-year-old Ryan Howe, of Rochester, last week with using a facility of interstate and foreign commerce to incite, promote and encourage a riot. Howe—who uses the pronouns “they/them” and “she/her”—is also known as “Rylea Autumn.”
Howe was among nine arrested on Sept. 2 by Rochester Police at a violent Black Lives Matter-antifa protest at the Public Safety Building. Several dozen had gathered to protest the death of Daniel Prude, a black man who died in police custody. The criminal complaint filed by a Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent says Howe shook the metal barricade protecting the police station, and screamed to agitate the crowd to violence. Howe then allegedly wrapped themselves around a street sign to resist arrest and kicked to avoid being handcuffed.
According to the criminal complaint, Howe made a number of extremists posts throughout September that caught the attention of law enforcement. They allegedly urged violence against the state and law enforcement using arson attacks. On Sept. 8, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office alerted federal investigators to Howe’s Facebook, which shows they espoused extreme antifa beliefs. Howe’s Facebook profile photo depicts them dressed in black bloc, with the accompanying text, “Antifascist Action.” Antifascist Action is the original English-language antifa organization formed in the 1980s.
[Editor’s note: ANTIFA’s original roots lie in Europe as Leon Trotsky’s brainchild to destabilize foreign governments in a bid to promote worldwide Communism. Trotsky was the Soviet propaganda minister and Communist party’s leading theoretician.]
Howe’s Facebook bio line reads: “Genderqueer, Anti-Fascist, Anti-Racist, Anarcho-communist.” Additionally, their Twitter account is filled with posts identifying with antifa and expressing support for communism. Howe’s other social media posts show they are heavily involved in far-left activism and organizing in the Rochester-area. ‘They’ were previously arrested in July at another protest.
The complaint says that on Sept. 23, Howe wrote on Facebook, “Burn this sh— to the f—ng ground” in response to news that the Kentucky officer involved in Breonna Taylor’s death was charged with three counts of felony wanton endangerment, rather than murder.
A day later, Howe allegedly shared a recipe on how to make a Molotov cocktail and then instructed readers to throw it at police. They later posted on the same day: “Good morning to everyone ready to burn this whole f—ing country to the ground!” Howe’s third post was a graphic of a smiley face holding a flaming Molotov cocktail.
The affidavit says Howe admitted to making the posts when he was interviewed by an FBI agent. ‘They’ said ‘they’ obtained the Molotov cocktail recipe from an anarchist book.
Howe made an initial appearance in federal court last week and was released on pre-trial with conditions. Howe is required to undergo a mental health examination, is required to seek employment, do drug testing and adhere to a curfew. Howe’s next court date is on Nov. 17.
The FBI conducted the investigation alongside the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department and the Rochester Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett A. Harvey. If convicted, Howe faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The case is one of the few known federal prosecutions since riots began in May that allege a suspect’s explicit ties to Antifa.
Their grandfather was said to be Nazi Germany’s richest man after building a weapons empire on the backs of slave labor.
Their father was involved in one of postwar Germany’s biggest political scandals. He almost frittered away the family fortune.
Enough remained for Viktoria-Katharina Flick and twin brother Karl-Friedrich Flick to lay claim, at 19, to being the world’s youngest billionaires. Each has $1.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Behind the riches, discreetly managed by their family office in Austria, lies a dark history of one of Germany’s wealthiest industrial dynasties.
The Flicks’ wealth traces its roots to Friedrich Flick, who spent three years in prison after he was convicted by the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal of using slave labor to produce armaments for the Nazis, among other crimes. He created a steel empire, which expanded by seizing companies in Nazi-occupied territories and in Germany through Aryanizations—the expropriation and forced sale of Jewish-owned businesses. As many as 40,000 laborers may have died working for Flick companies, according to a study of his Nazi-era businesses published in 2008.
Flick was released from prison in 1950, after the U.S. high commissioner for Germany granted controversial pardons to German industrialists. The U.S. and U.K. returned his money and business properties, including one Aryanized asset. He sold his coal businesses and invested the proceeds in numerous companies, including Daimler-Benz AG, eventually becoming the carmaker’s biggest shareholder.
“Leaving aside all moral standards, Friedrich Flick had the genius ability to become the richest person in Germany—twice,” said Thomas Ramge, author of “The Flicks,” a family history.
Other German business dynasties whose fortunes partly stem from the Nazi era, such as the Quandts and the Oetkers—and even some Flick family members—have made some form of restitution for using slave labor. Friedrich Flick and his youngest son, who became sole owner of the conglomerate, never did.
Friedrich Flick maintained his innocence and said that he had neither a legal nor a moral obligation to pay restitution. The son “just didn’t have the intellectual ambition to deal with the complexity of German history and how his family was involved,” Ramge said.
That son, Friedrich Karl Flick, took the reins of the family business upon his father’s death in 1972. He became sole owner of what was then Germany’s largest closely held conglomerate after buying out three family members in 1975. He also sold the remaining Aryanized asset, the Luebeck blast furnaces in northern Germany, to U.S. Steel Corp. that year.
In the 1980s, he was mired in a scandal involving illegal political donations that led to the resignations of Germany’s minister of economics and the parliamentary president. Friedrich Karl Flick denied knowledge of the payments and was not indicted. In 1987, his closest associate was fined for tax evasion and given a suspended jail sentence.
Friedrich Karl Flick sold the businesses to Deutsche Bank AG for 5.36 billion deutsche marks ($2.17 billion) in 1985, at the height of the scandal. After that, he withdrew from public life.
Almost a decade later, Flick moved to Austria, home of his third wife, Ingrid Ragger, 32 years his junior. They met while she was working as a hotel receptionist in a ski resort. He died in 2006, when Viktoria-Katharina and Karl-Friedrich, her younger brother by a minute, were 7 years old.
He “retreated to a safe mix of stocks, bonds, real estate and whatnot,” Ramge said in an interview. “Although there was still plenty to leave to the twins and his two other daughters.” When Flick died, he left behind $1 billion for each child, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Today the twins’ fortune is overseen by the Flick Privatstiftung, a Vienna- and Velden am Woerthersee, Austria-based family office. Stefan Weiser, a board member, declined to comment on Bloomberg’s tally of the family wealth.
“As we are a single-family office we do not divulge any details to outsiders,” Weiser said in an email. The twins were not made available for interviews. Their two half-sisters, Alexandra Butz, 50, and Elisabeth von Auersperg-Breunner, 44, from Friedrich Karl Flick’s second marriage, are based in Munich and Austria. The sisters’ net worth is also $1.8 billion each. They declined to comment.
The twins’ lives have remained intensely private; no photographs of them have gone public. Karl-Friedrich won a regional junior sabre-fencing title in 2017. Little is known about his sister.
Their mother has said she tried to make their childhoods as normal as possible.
“They’ve been getting pocket money since second grade, age-appropriate, not more than their friends,’’ Ingrid Flick told Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung in 2009. “This is how they’ll learn how to deal with money and its significance. I want them to be no different from their friends.”
Ingrid Flick once said she withheld a credit card from her teenage daughter, telling Germany’s Bunte magazine: “The kids have to learn that they’re nothing special, but that the name Flick obliges.”
The twins attended public high school in southern Austria, yet they’ve grown up with the trappings of wealth. When they were 13, they moved into their own villa on the grounds of Ingrid Flick’s Austrian estate. The residence had a disco, a playground and a tennis court, according to the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung. The court was inaugurated by Ilie Nastase, a former world No. 1-ranked player.
They leave the management of their money to three executives with decades of experience in wealth management, investment banking and legal affairs. The investment goals of the family office seem modest. Friedrich Karl Flick’s goal was a 4 percent annual return after taxes, inflation and expenses. “Sounds little, doesn’t it?” he told Austria’s Trend magazine in 1998.
Yet even in death, Friedrich Karl Flick couldn’t escape the family’s notoriety. In 2008, grave robbers removed a coffin containing his body from a mausoleum in the lakeside town of Velden. They demanded a 6 million euro ($7.5 million at the time) ransom. Three men were convicted in the case. Flick’s remains were later recovered in Hungary and reburied in Austria.
“Finally, my husband is back home,” Ingrid Flick told Bunte magazine. “The hope and fear is over. The prayers were answered.”
RE: Administrative arrogance in light of 1st & 6th Amendment guarantees
Dear Court Clerk/Administrator.
I am in possession of ZOOM instructions from your office to the public regarding witnessing courtroom proceedings, of necessity, in an era of pandemic contagion. I have file attached a PDF copy of the same to eliminate any ambiguity and for clarification. See below.
As a citizen and American, I am particularly offended by the chutzpah contained in the sentence instructing the public they may NOT record, capture, or ‘journal’ said proceedings via the ZOOM session in the relative comfort and privacy of their own homes, et al. This is blatantly inconsistent with 1st and 6th Amendment guarantees including (but not limited to) freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the right to complete transparency in each and every step of a legal proceeding in a court of law. I am personally familiar with Thurston County’s pattern of violating these legal standards and fundamental liberties.
It is not by largesse or grace your office makes these sessions available to the public, but by Constitutional mandate and the obvious threat of pandemic contagion. You may be able to arrogantly throw the weight of what remains of the King’s Court around during sessions defined by the 4 walls of the courtroom or in personam/subject matter jurisdiction, but you have NO authority to prohibit journaling a PUBLIC proceeding outside those 4 walls or as to people who are not litigants/witnesses. Your office publicly broadcasts these sessions because it HAS to. Moreover, you yourselves record them and make them available to any member of the public who can afford a copy. Thus, not only does your office lack the dictatorial authority you seek, but no one in that courtroom has any expectation of privacy.
Please allow me one further, but simple clarification: If you think you can stop/prevent me or any other citizen from capturing/recording the ZOOM sessions your office broadcasts, you can kiss my hairy ass! I shall endeavor to enlighten the rest of the general public as to the limits of your arrogance/misapprehensions/incompetence and encourage them to follow suit in challenging it.
“A lot of people blame cruelty on dehumanization. They say that when you fail to appreciate the humanity of other people, that’s where genocide and slavery and all sorts of evils come from. I don’t think that’s entirely wrong. I think a lot of real awful things we do to other people arise from the fact that we don’t see them as people.
But the argument I make in my New York article is that it’s incomplete. A lot of the cruelty we do to one another, the real savage, rotten terrible things we do to one another, are in fact because we recognize the humanity of the other person.
We see other people as blameworthy, as morally responsible, as themselves cruel, as not giving us what we deserve, as taking more than they deserve. And so we treat them horribly precisely because we see them as moral human beings.”